Jewish World Review December 14, 2012/ 1 Teves, 5773
I still like Ike
By Paul Greenberg
http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | Ordinarily, the news that a long overdue memorial to an historic American leader has been put on hold still again would come as a disappointment. But if you've seen the innocuous design for an Eisenhower memorial in the nation's capitol, the news may come as a relief -- and a welcome opportunity to start all over and try to get it right this time.
Innocuous doesn't begin to cover the emptiness, the blahness, the pomo meaninglessness of
Oh, yes, there are a few disjointed quotations from the real Eisenhower clunked onto the design like random afterthoughts to lend it a bogus authenticity, and a statue of the accomplished general, under-estimated statesman and smiling national leader as ... a
I'd call the design Disneyish except that it lacks even that much character. Believe it or not, this disconnected, spaced-out blob of a little park is supposed to have something to do with honoring an American who was first in war, first in peace and first in the hearts of his countrymen in his time. Which was the 1950s, the Age of Cool, when understatement was in fashion, displays of emotion were out, and political rhetoric was supposed to be as slim as the neckties.
But this design for an Eisenhower "memorial" betrays no memory of either the Supreme Allied Commander in the
Where is that Eisenhower in what is supposed to be an Eisenhower memorial? Where is the Ike we remember? There's not a trace of him.
Here was a general who could get prima donnas like Patton and Monty and DeGaulle working together, using their talents just when and where they were most needed and not otherwise. Then he would come home to reunify a bitterly divided country and deal with the Joe McCarthys and Orval Faubuses and J. William Fulbrights so deftly and effectively it looked as if he were doing nothing at all.
Ike knew when to let actions speak louder than words. As on
There was something irresistibly simple about both Eisenhower the general and Eisenhower the president. Or maybe he just appeared simple, a much more valuable political talent. It disarmed even his critics. He could boil down both strategic and political issues to their core, reach a conclusion, and then stick with it. How rare in the fickle world of high-stakes, ever-fluid politics. Call it constancy of purpose.
Unlike today's headliners, the man had an instinctive aversion to the pretentious, the glib, the clever, the theatical. No one would ever have mistaken him for some kind of flashy intellectual. It was said that when his speechwriter gave Ike a first draft, the first thing he did was go through it and strike out any phrases that might prove memorable. It's a wonder
Eisenhower does present a difficult question for historians: Was he better at cutting straight through some
This amnesiac memorial is the product of
Now the Great Gehry has designed a "monument" that doesn't have enough character even to be ugly. It could be one of those mass-produced, pre-fabbed
The best of recent memorials --
There is no design so simple and moving that some unimaginative, literal-minded critics won't find a way to disimprove it. Usually by adding completely superfluous curlicues. Or maybe a group of realistic sculptures to break up its abstract flow. At the Vietnam Memorial, tens of thousands of light-filled American names float forever on its sloping walls, whose dark surface reflects the images of the living who are just passing through like so many ghosts-to-be.
At least there's no way to disimprove this design for an Eisenhower memorial. Because there's nothing there to make better or worse. It's in the spirit of a spiritless age. And of an America that has grown suspicious of greatness or any national celebration of it. No wonder the Eisenhower family objected to this empty but expensive design, which is cluttered with symbols and at the same time manages to say nothing, nothing at all.
The major-domo of this whole, mishandled project is one
Goodness. It was clear enough that Chairman Siciliano was an insufferable little popinjay, but not that he was also in contact with the spirit world. Ike's son,
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